Most football fan’s first choice as the best-ever player, Pele has said that he considers Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo to be the top football player in the world as the World Cup approaches.
The Real Madrid star was named the Ballon d’Or winner in 2013, beating his competitor from Barcelona and four time winner Messi into second place. Ronaldo was clearly emotional when picking up the gong from Pele.
Fans often debate who is the better of the two players, with no signs of the argument abating at any time in the near future, but now Pele has leant his heavy weight voice, surely one of the most respected in the soccer community to back Ronaldo as the sport’s current top dog.
A hotly contested topic for fans at the bar will be which is the best player and who is making the best impact for their team at the World Cup 2014 and many eyes will be on Ronaldo, especially after Pele’s plaudits.
Pele was a captivating player to watch in motion and generally considered to be the best player to ever don a pair of football boots. The soccer legend led Brazil’s World Cup wins in 1962 and 1970.
And now the South American soccer wizard has admitted that he believes Ronaldo has overtaken Messi the beautiful game’s best player.
He said: “I think, no doubt, that two years ago, Messi as a player that was in very, very good condition.
“In just five short years, he became the best player in Europe, but in the last two years and this year, he has suffered a problem: Messi got injured, he was out this year and he has played few games.
“For me Ronaldo has come through for the past two or three years and is the best in Europe. I think at the moment, no doubt Ronaldo is the best player, but until now Messi was the best.
“Messi used to do the same thing as I used to do at Santos: to make runs from behind.
“Ronaldo used to play more upfront, so I think for me Ronaldo is more important because he is the player who scores goals from the front.
“I would have to compete with Messi because we have the same game and do the same on the field. I think Ronaldo, for Santos in my time, would be a better player.”
QPR v Manchester City
English Premier League
Loftus Road, London
Tuesday 29 January, 2013
Queens Park Rangers couldn’t have faced a worse match as they continue to fight against the threat of relegation. Manchester City will fancy their chances of winning this fixture and maintain pressure on Manchester United at the top of the Premier League table.
There were many transfers that caught the eye in the summer transfer window not least of all the signing of Adam Johnson by Sunderland.
Johnson is generally admired by most football fans who can’t understand why he’s never really been given the chances to succeed with either Man City or England. One may have thought Johnson would be a shoe- in for the England squad at Euros as a midfield attacking outlet – especially considering Hodgson’s lack of options in that department. Along with Michael Carrick, Johnson was the surprise omission.
Johnson did make 38 appearances for Man City last season scoring a respectable 7 goals; respectable as most of these appearances were from the bench. That’s a decent record for a man who could never be assured of first team football.
Adam Johnson’s true value is easily double what Man City sold him for but his asking price was dictated by the fact that he wasn’t a first team player. He’s a thoroughly modern midfielder who can play as part of a front four or as an out an out winger. His comfort on the ball is excellent and his ability to beat a man and shoot from the edge of the area is supreme.
Finally Johnson may get the chance to re-establish himself as a top player at Sunderland and get the match time that his ability deserves. For now it appears a mystery as to why none of the top 6 teams came in for him, but their loss is Sunderland’s gain as Johnson strives to throw off the tag of perennial under achiever.
Where previously some people may have fancied Sunderland for the drop, the acquisition of Johnson has seen their odds rise to around 12/1. The bookies and online casino seem to have declared safety at the very least is the most likely outcome for Sunderland’s season. Some online casinos just prefer to enjoy football on the game level. JackpotCity for example offers a football themed game for the fans to enjoy. The slots is based on the Shoot! magazine and full of awesome football trivia.
The finale of last season’s Premier League could scarcely have been scripted to make it any more dramatic and thrilling, as two local rivals from the same city found themselves involved in final day matches, with both still in with a chance of the title. That may have seemed a far-fetched enough scenario before the start of the season, but when you throw in the astonishing final minutes of the games – with Manchester City scoring twice in the dying moments to win their game and steal the title from United – you have a situation that nobody would have bet on unfolding at any of the football news sites and football blogs, before the season started.
What this does go to show is that, for all its faults, the Premier League is more than capable of surpassing our wildest expectations when it comes to breathtaking theatre, making it likely that this season will produce plenty of excitement for fans. Whether it can surpass what occurred at the end of the last one is debatable, as that presented the sort of circumstances that only occur very, very occasionally in football. The Premier League has experienced final day drama before, but never with the additional spice of local rivalry thrown in as well.
One area of the league where this kind of scenario can more reliably be expected to unfold is in the relegation zone; as it is more often that we reach the end of a Premiership season with a number of clubs still not mathematically safe from relegation, than with more than one club still able to win the league. Thus it is possible that it will be at the bottom of the table that the neutrals will be eyeing for excitement come May, rather than the race for the title, but this is as much part of the tapestry of a league season as the battle for honours.
With 12 teams having suffered the heartache of elimination, four footballing heavyweights remain in this summer’s battle for Euro 2012 glory. Firstly holders Spain take on their Iberian neighbours Portugal on Wednesday, before unbeaten sides Germany and Italy clash on Thursday. For the latest betting odds, visit www.freebets.org.uk.
Spain vs Portugal
Spain have progressed to the semi-finals with a minimum of fuss; a draw against Italy in their opener has been followed by consecutive wins over Republic of Ireland, Croatia and France. Despite scoring eight goals and only conceding one, Vicente del Bosque’s charges have not shown the ominous footballing domination of past competitions, but have not really been tested as yet either. La Roja’s starting line-up will dictate the style of play against Portugal, as Del Bosque must decide whether to field a recognised forward or stick to his six-man bespoke midfield.
Portugal were staring elimination in the face after opening-day defeat to Germany, but Paulo Bento’s men have recovered to beat Denmark, Netherlands and Czech Republic to make the last four. The side’s upturn in results has coincided with Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to form; the Real Madrid superstar has three goals in the last two games. Joao Moutinho and Miguel Veloso will need to play out of their skins to get close to the likes of Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Andres Iniesta, in what should be a passionate and exciting encounter.
Germany vs Italy
Germany have lived up to pre-tournament expectations by winning all four of their games against Portugal, Netherlands, Denmark and Greece to steamroll their way to this stage. Joachim Low’s men have won a world-record 15 consecutive competitive fixtures, and have a blend of experience and ability to envy. Bastian Schweinsteiger is carrying an injury but should play, whilst Low has decisions to make in attack after resting Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski against the Greeks. Germany are certainly favourites in the game, with a glamour final against Spain potentially in the offing.
Italy were being written-off in the lead-up to the competition, but have shown a doggedness and togetherness to make the last four. Draws against Spain and Croatia have been followed by a win over Ireland and a penalties victory over England. Cesare Prandelli’s tactics and team selection have varied over the last fortnight, with 3-5-2 and customised 4-4-2 formations being deployed; the Azzurri boss will need to get it right on Thursday to stand a chance of defeating the Germans. Deep-lying Andrea Pirlo has given a creative masterclass so far, and will be pivotal in the Italian possession game.
Expect two tight games, world-class players and a scintillating showcase of skill, as four nations with a rich footballing histories look to build on their records of success.